RGV screening of “As I Walk Through the Valley” premiers Saturday in Edinburg

By Amanda A. Taylor

For Ronnie Garza, music is a universal language. “It makes us dance, helps us heal and says the words we can’t say sometimes,” the local musician and director said. Not only is music a form of creative expression, but it can be a powerful representation of cultural and historical identity. Through the documentary film “As I Walk Through the Valley,” directors Ronnie Garza and Charlie Vela wanted to bring positive attention to the culture of the Rio Grande Valley by way of music.

For those unfamiliar, “As I Walk Through the Valley” or “AIWTTV” documents the history of the underground rock scene in the RGV. The local premiere of the film is set to screen at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at The Edinburg Auditorium.

“‘As I Walk Through the Valley’ is a journey through 40 years of the Valley’s underground music scene — from rock, country, musica regional, punk, metal and beyond,” Vela said. “It’s meant to give us a sense of some of our local history as well as help introduce the world to our little corner of the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The film has gained the attention of news outlets such as NPR, Remezcla, Austin360 and Texas Monthly, among others.

The directors debuted the film at SXSW in March. The response, they said, was “overwhelmingly positive.”

“We were actually pretty surprised that people from as far out as San Francisco and Chicago felt that the film was very universal to their own musical experiences,” Vela said. “There were a ton of laughs, a few tears and many questions after the film. Our favorite part was seeing so many of the artists who we interviewed reuniting at the screenings, and getting to see and hear their stories on the big screen.”

In order for the film to come to completion, Vela and Garza spent three years interviewing, shooting, transcribing and producing the project. The team also spent a good amount of time combing through archival materials and digitizing historical elements.

“Once all that was finished, editing everything down into a coherent story was a massive task on its own,” Vela said. “We began post-production when my daughter was born and premiered the film right around her first birthday.”

The team said though their experiences at SXSW in Austin were invaluable, they were excited to screen the film for the community the film was for and about.

“In general, the stories that get told about the Valley are written by outsiders and overwhelmingly advance one-dimensional problematic narratives about who we are and what our lives are like,” Vela said. “The idea that we can take control of our own story and how we’re presented to the world is empowering. The national and international interest in this film is proof that people out there are interested in our stories, and the excitement of the local community is proof that we need to see ourselves represented more often.”

The screening on Saturday is free and open to the public. There will be a Q&A session after the film with the directors and a concert featuring bands from the eras covered in the film.

Photos credit: As I Walk Through The Valley